This personality test may reveal how selfish and manipulative you are

The Talented Mr. RipleyMiramax via YouTubeThe talented Mr. Ripley may have been a Machiavellian.

Do you deceive other people for your own benefit, see others as weak and untrustworthy, and ignore moral codes?

If so, you may be a Machiavellian, a psychological term named after the Italian political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli, whose book “The Prince” includes characters who fit this description.

Machiavellians fall on a spectrum, from low Machs — who are people that are not very selfish — to high Machs, who are, for lack of a more scientific description, selfish jerks.

To find out if you are a Machiavellian, you can take this test.

The test, which comes from the 1970 book “Studies in Machiavellianism” by social psychologist Richard Christie and Florence Geis, asks about how much you agree with statements like:

  • Never tell anyone the real reason you did something unless it is useful to do so.
  • It is wise to flatter important people.
  • It is safest to assume that all people have a vicious streak and it will come out when they are given a chance.

I took the test myself, and scored a 51 out of 100, classifying me as a low Mach (phew!). According to the test, I fall into a category of people “who hold out for the goodness of the world and avoid manipulation. Not the people Machiavelli would approve of.”

The results also spit out a bell-shaped graph of the responses from everyone else who has taken the test, below. The average score sits somewhere around 65, and my score is shown by the red arrow.

However, the chart above is not an accurate reflection of the population, the test warns, because “the people who seek out tests of machivellianism on the internet are most likely not representative” of the average person.

Moreover, you can’t be sure that everyone has answered the questions truthfully — for example, it’s easy to imagine how one might game the test to appear less selfish (which is just the sort of manipulative behaviour a high Mach might do.)

Yet if you do answer truthfully, your individual score will give you a fairly good measure of how Machiavellian you are, regardless of how you measure up to others’ responses.

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